Quick facts and care essentials

Sunset  – September 23, 2004

• Zones 1-11, 14-21, 30-45
• Full sun
• Regular to moderate watering

Oriental poppy blooms in early summer, bearing flamboyant bowl-shaped blossoms on leafy, 2- to 4-foot stalks that rise from a low mound of long, narrow, notch-edged, bristly looking (yet soft-to-the-touch) leaves. The flowers are 4 to 6 inches across. The original color was orange, but today you’ll also find red, scarlet, pink, salmon, white, and bicolor blooms. One clump can grow almost 2 feet wide; three planted near each other make a dramatic splash of color at bloom time.

Though Oriental poppy is a favorite in many parts of the country, it needs winter chill for best performance and thrives in cold-winter, cool-summer regions. In these preferred areas, it’s easy to grow, flourishing in ordinary garden soil (as long as it’s well drained).

Plant Oriental poppy from roots or containers in early fall. Plants will welcome a springtime application of complete fertilizer during their first season.

Oriental poppy grows from a fleshy taproot and is not a good candidate for dividing. The preferred method for increasing a planting is to take root cuttings in summer.